“We’re very excited,” said Tera Roberts, Orange Grove’s director of adult services. “We already have 30 north Georgia individuals we’re serving now. Another 20 have asked for services.”
Orange Grove Center officials estimate that 5,717 people in Georgia need comprehensive services.
Roberts said it has taken Orange Grove five to six years of strategic planning to establish an office in Georgia. Over the years many families and civic leaders have repeatedly asked the center when it would provide services across the Tennessee state line, she said.
Orange Grove serves more than 700 clients and employs about 800, Roberts said. The center provides employment-related services and pre-vocational training, teaches clients daily living skills and offers comprehensive enrichment services through art, music and physical education.
“We don’t have residential services available in Georgia yet,” Roberts said.
In Tennessee, the center can help clients coordinate individual and group-home living arrangements as well as in-home support. The center embraces a family model, according to Orange Grove officials.
Orange Grove Center clients in Ringgold can perform contract work for area employers such as assembling products or taking apart electronics for recycling. The center also offers businesses and organizations recycling and document destruction services.
Orange Grove Center is funded in part by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Georgia Division of Rehabilitation Services, the United Way of Northwest Georgia, the McKenzie Foundation and private contributors such as ACE Hardware, according to Roberts.
Tom Glenn, president of a local ACE group that includes 17 stores in Tennessee and north Georgia, pledged to pay one year’s rent on the center’s new Ringgold location. Glenn, a former United Way of Northwest Georgia campaign chair, said ACE was “pleased to do our little part.”
For more information, call 423-486-4869 in Georgia, 423-629-1451 in Tennessee, or visit orangegrovecenter.org.